BACCHIDES băk’ ə dez (Βακχίδης). Governor of Mesopotamia during the days of and general of the Syrian Army under Demetrius Soter.
Bacchides was a devoted friend and loyal servant of two Syrian rulers. The first was Antiochus Epiphanes (Antiq. XII. x. 2) during whose days he served as governor of Mesopotamia. The second was Demetrius (1 Macc 7:8) under whom he served as general of the army. Just before his death, Antiochus designated one of his companions, Philip, to be guardian of his kingdom (1 Macc 6:14) but it was Lysias, his general, who announced Antiochus’ death and declared his son as the new king. Demetrius, however, had fled from Rome and had set himself up as king in the city of Tripoli (1 Macc 7:4). He had both Antiochus (Epiphanes’ son) and Lysias killed and made Bacchides his general.
As general Bacchides was required to conduct a number of campaigns against Judas and Jonathan Maccabee. Alcimus’ desire to become high priest occasioned the first campaign. The priestly aspirant came to Demetrius representing the apostates of Judea. He won the support of Demetrius with accusations against Judas and his followers. The king sent Bacchides to Judea to establish Alcimus (1 Macc 7:5ff.) and to slay Judas. Bacchides succeeded in establishing Alcimus but not in slaying Judas (1 Macc 7:19, 20). In the process the general alienated many of the people through whom he sought to accomplish his task.
The second campaign of Bacchides resulted from the death of Nicanor whom Demetrius had sent to destroy Israel (1 Macc 7:26-46) after Alcimus had appealed to him a second time. Bacchides attacked Judas with a large force. Following a defeat of his wing, the left wing counterattacked and slew Judas, dispersing his army.
Following the death of Judas, Bacchides enlisted the aid of the apostates to kill the followers of Judas. The faithful Jews, however, elected Jonathan as their leader, and after securing garrisons throughout the country Bacchides returned to his king.
After two years the deserters, alarmed at Jonathan’s growing power, once again appealed to Demetrius who responded by sending Bacchides against Jonathan and Simon. The siege proved unsuccessful and, after venting his displeasure over his misfortunes upon the deserters who had sent for him, Bacchides withdrew permanently from Judea providing a basis for a truce. Bacchides’ conquests against Judea, therefore, were a mixture of victories and defeats ultimately surrendering to Maccabean independence.
1 Maccabees 7-9; Josephus Antiq. XII-XIII; C. Pfeiffer, History of Times With an Introduction to the Apocrypha, 9-19.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
bak-i-dez: Bakchides: Bacchides, ruler over Mesopotamia and a faithful friend of both